There has been a large increase in the number of children placed on the child protection register in the Southern Trust area, which covers the Dungannon District.
The 28 percent spike in referrals since last March means that the local area now has the highest rate of children deemed at risk of abuse or neglect, at 55.2 per thousand of the population.
A total of 521 children are currently on the list, with 37 under the age of one, and the majority, 196, between the ages of five and eleven. The most common reason for alarm bells being rung over a child’s welfare was the risk of physical abuse only, in 228 cases, followed by neglect only at 105 cases. A total of 44 children were referred because of the risk of sexual abuse.
The lowest rate of children on the confidential register, 39.4, was in the Western Trust.
A child is placed on the register if they have been harmed or are thought to be at significant risk of harm.
Their wellbeing and development is then monitored more closely by social services. The reasons for a registration are categorised as either neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse or emotional abuse.
Across Northern Ireland, there are 2,146 children listed on the Child Protection Register in Northern Ireland. This represents a 2% increase on the previous quarter. SDLP Councillor for the Mid Ulster District, Sharon McAleer said: “The increase of children placed on the register could indicate that our policies are working well and that more children are being detected. If its indicating an increase in abuse it’s very concerning.
“We all have a responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people and we’re all responsible for reporting concerns in relation to this.”